Payson’s ‘Music Man’ Keeps 109-year Tradition Going
PAYSON, Utah – A retired music teacher has come back to his home town in Utah County for 16 years to keep up a decades-old family legacy.
Wayne Huff left his home town of Payson years ago, but during the summer, something keeps drawing him back – tradition.
Every Sunday evening during the summer, Huff takes the stage at Payson’s Memorial Park to lead the Payson City Band in a medley of popular music, classical music and movie and show tunes. It’s a concert series that’s been running every year since 1909, according to L. Dee Stevenson of the Payson Historical Society
“It’s more than a tradition, it’s a marker for Payson,” said clarinetist Diane Cruz.
Huff inherited a love of music from his father, Lewis, a Geneva Steel worker who played trumpet in dance bands. In 1970, Lewis Huff volunteered to conduct the Payson City Band concerts in the park. He made sure each of his five children took music lessons. Each of them played in the band, as well.
Wayne’s brother Larry said his dad was like the character Harold Hill from the musical, The Music Man, who tells young Winthrop, “I always think there’s a band, kid.”
“That’s the way it was with my father,” Larry Huff says. “There was always a band.”
“When I was a little kid in Payson, I’d sit in the front row listening to the band play,” Wayne Huff said. “I remember sitting there listening to Dad and Farrell (his brother) play in the band. I thought, ‘Gosh, I want to get into that.’”
Sixteen years ago, Wayne Huff, a retired music teacher, picked up the baton. The band today includes his brother, Larry, his sister, Colleen, a niece, nephew and grandson. He also shares the stage with a high school band mate, trombonist Cordell Chipman. They’ve played together, Chipman said, for about 65 years.
A dozen members have played with the band for over 30 years. Five have been with the band for over 50 years.
“It’s bigger than all of us because of its history,” said percussionist Klint Crawford. “Every time I’m in rehearsal with them you can feel that presence of every person that’s been in the band and the history of the band and there’s just this feeling of playing with them that I don’t get anywhere else.”
The Payson City Band plays in Memorial Park every Sunday at 8 p.m. through Labor Day.
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